There is one important thing to keep in mind before we venture into the sweetest of all voyages: there are many, many Lebanese desserts we left out of this syrupy equation. We have handpicked only ten of our favorites from the endless options, so we wouldn’t say this is a definitive ranking from worst to best (because, let’s face it: there is no such thing as "worst" in our cuisine #yeah #Lebanese #power), but rather, this is a definitive ranking from okay to fanfreakintastic.

10. Ma’amoul

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Whether it's Eid or Easter, the holidays wouldn't be complete without trays upon trays of ma’amoul on display at your house, in restaurants - heck - in every corner of our country. Ma’amoul is a shortbread pastry filled with delicious nuts, dates and other fillings delicately rolled in softened sugar.

We think we can do better than ma’amoul, though.

9. Sfouf/ Namoura

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Sfouf are delicious almond-semolina cakes (our Arab version of cakes) and boy, do they taste good with a cup of warm milk. Namoura are quite similar to sfouf but they’re drenched in syrup and served with an almond on top.

8. Layali Lubnan

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This cold dessert, which translates in English to “Lebanese Nights”, is milk and semolina pudding that is served with whipped cream and pistachio nuts on top. The toppings can always be substituted with fruit (banana is really good, I recommend it) and sugar syrup.

Hot Lebanese summer nights are not complete without a plate of Layali Lubnan.

7. Awamat

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The Lebanese version of donuts – small balls of golden-friend and crisp, cinnamon-infused dough coated in syrup (we really love syrup, don’t we?). Beware: these things are super addictive.

6. Meghli

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Meghli definitely tastes better than it looks – that’s all I can say. It is a floured rice pudding spiced with cinnamon and anise and served with almonds or coconuts. It’s one of the few Lebanese desserts that are light on the stomach, and that’s why we like it. Meghly is traditioanlly served when a child is born, and also during Christmas and Easter.

5. Znoud el Set

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Before we proceed to talk about how these fried babies remind us of heaven, we have to say: what is up with the name? Arms of a lady? Not the most appetizing image. Still doesn’t stop us from enjoying the crisp, cream filled pastry that is fried to perfection and cooled down with coconuts and sweet syrup on the side.

4. Mafroukeh

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Omnom. This one here is an agglomeration of all things crunchy and smooth into layers upon layers of all things fattening. Nuts, cream, butter, semolina, sugar syrup, orange blossom and roasted nuts. Yuuuuuum.

3. Baklava

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Although baklava is borrowed from the Ottomans, it has become a staple of Lebanese culture. The pastry is filled with layers upon layers of nuts and honey.

The delicious dessert has even sparked ad wars in the country between popular sweets shops.

2. Atayef with Ashta/Fried Atayef with Cheese

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These are thin, fluffy and light pancakes filled with ashta cream or cheese. The atayef with ashta is not fried, and it is served with (take a wild guess...) syrup and pistachio nuts. They are fun and easy to make, and believe it or not, are better than regular old English or American pancakes.

However, the ultimate atayef is the fried one with melted, ricotta cheese waiting to drown in your insides and drown you along with it.

1. K’nafe

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And now we make it to the greatest of all Lebanese sweets, bow before his greatness: the Knafe.

I think we can all agree that this is the best of the best: shredded pastry filled with an inside of warm ashta or dripping cheese (and more recently, nutella [?!]) served with syrup. It has a wafting smell that can fill an entire street on its own, and when served with bread it is nothing short of phenomenal.

Articles & Media

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A Definitive Ranking of Lebanese... Listomania on May 22, 2014
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